MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE ON SAFARI…
And how to avoid them!
When visiting the reserve of your dreams, you want to make sure that you adhere to all of the norms, right?
If you want to gain respect from your fellow guests and even your game ranger, check out these common mistakes – and make sure to avoid them!
1. DISTURBING WILDLIFE
As tempting as it may be to whistle or ‘ksss ksss’ at that big male lion while he is chowing down on that delicious zebra so you can get your Photo of the Month, we need to remember never to disturb the wildlife in their natural environment.
This is for a few different reasons. For example, in a lion case such as above, it could distract the dominant male, allowing a secondary male to seize the opportunity to feed, thus disrupting the natural hierarchy – this could cause a lot of trouble! Secondly, it is not a fun thing for other guests to experience – many would like to simply be in the moment, witnessing the wildlife instead of getting annoyed at the sound or movement of the distracter. Thirdly, and most importantly, it could land you in some serious trouble. The safari jeeps in the Kruger are open topped and open sided – there is not a lot between you and the animals.
I was once on a safari in the Pilanesberg, and we happened across three lionesses relaxing in next to the road. The guide stopped for us to view them, and one guest decided to stand up and call the nearest lioness. BOY, did she listen! She got up, and within seconds was close to the vehicle, with her eyes dangerously fixated on the guest. The guide drove us off at a high speed.
Remember that you are in THEIR domain, and we need to respect their comfort zones.
2. UNCONVENTIONAL CLOTHING
Whilst there is no real need to buy brand new ‘hollywood style’ safari outfits, there are some colors that should generally be avoided. This includes white, as the red dust of the earth often gathers on your safari outfits, and particularly on white! Bright colors should also be avoided, as even though many of the animals are color blind, it still plays a huge role in camoflauge.
Last August, we participated in a walk where a fellow guest wore a bright red head to toe track suit, which was quite distracting for the animals and for us.
Greens, olives, khakis and beiges are most recommended – but again there is really no pressure to go and buy new clothes!
On this note – high heels are also not needed on safari!!!! It makes getting in and out of the safari jeep seem like climbing Mt. Kiliminjaro!
On safari, comfort is key.
3. SLEEPING IN
I completely understand how tough it is to wake up at 4:30am, especially if you have only recently arrived at your lodge. But, believe me when I say it is COMPLETELY worth it.
In those last hours of darkness is when all the animals come out to play, especially those that are not seen often – hyena, leopard, porcupine, honey badger, civet, caracal, and so on. Even more so, the predators are all beginning to quite down, and one can often observe lions and other carnivores in a relaxed state.
Plus, you will have plenty of time between the hours of around 10 and 2 to relax and do whatever you please (sleeping, for many!), so rather use your safari time to its full potential.
4. NOT ASKING QUESTIONS
Every safari goer has to start somewhere. Be it your first, our four hundredth safari, questions are always welcomed by your guide or hosts. For many guests, a safari is a once in a lifetime experience, so we always encourage our guests to make the most of it. There is absolutely no such thing as a stupid question, and trust me when I say you’ll regret not asking it.
5. FORGOING EXTRAS
I am not talking about extra cost activities, but more about options that are already included in your rate, such as bush walks or educational discussions that are there for you to do during your free time at your lodge.
Getting up close and personal with the wildlife on foot is an experience never to be missed, and you will often learn things on these walks that you would miss on a driving safari. Plus, it can make for great pictures!
6. BEING A BIG 5 DIEHARD
While this is a huge draw card for your safari experience, only focusing on the famous Big 5 (leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino) can make you easily miss out on ‘amazingness’ of the lesser known animals. Try and have a few animals in mind that you would like to see (should your ranger ask), but try to generally keep an open mind when it comes to sightings. Being in the bush and in the wilderness is about taking everything as it comes, and this includes game sightings. Even the common impala will have something interesting, unique and new to offer you.
**Photography by Ed Hetherington